Saturday, September 3, 2016

Matt Bomer Actor Shock - Again!

Is Matt Bomer too openly a Federal Agent and professional conman to play Christian Grey in the movie version of the book Fifty Shades of Grey?

This was the question I asked when it was first suggested that the brilliant Bomer was one of the front runners to play the sex stud role that eventually went to Jamie Dornan in the hilariously bad movie based on the even more hilariously bad book (you really dodged a bullet there, Matt).
    
Of course he is, I went on to say. Anyone who watches White Collar knows the reality, and the idea that he could put his day job on hold to pretend to be someone he is clearly not is, of course, ludicrous.
    
I have to be honest, upon hearing that he was being considered for Christian, I was shocked. How can you have a man wearing an ankle tag, stripping off and slapping a woman around? Anastasia would be bound to notice and comment upon it – “Hey, I can’t wait to get those handcuffs on and have you beat me black and blue, but what’s with the leg jewellery?” Talk about putting a dampener on the proceedings.

Now, there is outrage once more, following Mark Ruffalo's decision to cast Bomer as a transgender in his movie, Anything. The horror, the horror! What is the world coming to?
   
Heck, it’s like a man who can’t walk on water being asked to play Jesus. 

If I were writing a film about the Son of God, I would insist that the casting director check out the individual’s credentials for the role. After the walking on water bit was established, I would insist that he fulfil other criteria essential to convince us that he is Jesus. 

Was he born in a stable? Was his mother a virgin? Can he turn water into wine and wine into blood? Can he transform a couple of sardines and a baguette into a feast for 5000? Can he persuade a dozen fishermen to leave their families and go on a road trip? Most important of all, can he rise from the dead? 

Unless the actor’s life completely resonated with the character I had written, he would not get the part.
    
Robert Powell would never have landed the part of Jesus had he not displayed all these qualities at the audition, and the fact that he is still with us is evidence that he really did rise from the dead. Rumours of a Second Coming have, however, been greatly exaggerated.
    
Similarly, Daniel Radcliffe had obviously served a long apprenticeship as a wizard before he landed the role of Harry Potter. How else could he have mastered all those tricks? And if bicycles were not really able to fly, what would be the point of watching ET?
    
The importance of art mimicking life to the letter provides a particularly pertinent point when it comes to casting gay men as straight and vice versa. Could David Hyde Pierce have delivered so convincing and hilarious a performance, lusting after Daphne in Frasier, if he were gay? Of course not. It was clearly something that only a full-blooded heterosexual hunk could have mustered.
    
Would How I Met Your Mother be remotely funny if it contained gay people purporting to be straight, all in the name of entertainment? How ridiculous would that be?  
   
If people start pretending to be people they are not, where does that leave us as a society? It’s like telling someone they have licence to be a chameleon, casting a spell over the lives of others to help them suspend their disbelief. What sort of a world would it be, if everyone went around kicking reality in the teeth?
    
Before long, you would have special schools set up to teach people the art of this deception. People might start paying to go and see it, even. They might start giving out awards for some people doing it better than others.
    
So, Mr Bomer, the first time round, I found it inconceivable that, having returned to New York to continue your work with the Feds, you could have convinced me that you spent your days in a basement, constructing wooden crucifixes on which to fix women with ropes and chains.
    
That is a job for a man with psycho tendencies. Someone who might conjure up the image of a hungry rodent in a woman’s vagina, feasting on her sexual organs to induce a slow death, for example. But you would have to ask Bret Easton Ellis about that.

Now, in this latest turn of events, I am supposed to believe that you are a man who has become a woman?
  
Whatever next! If this deception thing called acting ever takes off – stranger things have happened - I have no doubt you will be able to pull it off brilliantly, just as you would have had you been given the part of Christian Gray, and I will continue to pay good money to see it. 

For the record, Mr Bomer, I think you would make a great Jesus. You can turn water into wine, can't you?


     
  
    


    

Friday, August 26, 2016

Ribs to Go

My brain has decided to separate itself from the rest of my body; in fact, it may have disappeared altogether. 

A few weeks ago, I posted a picture of an injury to my forehead I sustained when opening a kitchen cupboard. Now look, I know how to open a cupboard; I’ve been doing it for well over five decades. But on this occasion, my brain decided not to tell my head that it had to move out of the way before the door swung open onto it, making a whacking great dent in my skull.
   
Two days ago, I returned to New York from Los Angeles and found the smoke alarm beeping in my apartment. Knowing I had to change the battery, or at least remove it to get a decent night’s sleep, I pulled out the spare office chair from the nearby cupboard and stood on it to reach the alarm – the chair with five wheels and elasticated, totally unbalanceable seat, as opposed to the perfectly solid small stepladder just a few feet away in the kitchen. 

Everything after that was in slow motion. 

First, I felt the wheels deciding to take a lone visit to the bathroom behind me, accompanied by the sound of what seemed like a runaway train. My hands fell from the alarm straight onto the painting below, which I instantly let go of because I didn’t want to damage it. Then, realising that I was in free fall as the last of the chair slipped away, I felt suspended in mid-air for what seemed like several seconds before realising I had to succumb to the inevitable and just drop. It was a bit like Virgil’s entry into Thunderbird Two – but without the Thunderbird.
   
So, I am now sitting here with what I suspect are several cracked ribs, possibly broken, one semi-usable leg with a cut knee, a twisted shoulder and two swollen hands. But at least my Women’s Bits are intact (I think. The jury’s out for the moment).
   
Having planned to return to the UK tomorrow for my summer holiday, I have had to cancel it all and stay resting. I can’t open the refrigerator door without experiencing pain and have been advised that carrying or lifting anything is out of the question until the ribs heal (I’m making an exception for wine glasses, but even they are not plain sailing). 

I wouldn’t be able to transport a make-up bag, let alone a case, to visit the 14 groups of friends and family I had planned to see over the next 10 days; and as for coping with the seven different trains, and goodness knows how many taxis - it would have killed me.
   
In my defence, every time I’ve stood on the wheelie chair in the past, it’s been fine. My brain had forgotten to remind my body, though, that on those other occasions, I had left it in the cupboard where there was a whacking great ridge preventing it from moving a centimetre. But I was tired after a long flight, and the beeping was driving me nuts. Prior to replacing the battery, my first thought had been to go to a local bar to relax with a lovely cool Stella. 

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. But then, as a friend pointed out, I might have gone to the bar, returned the worse for wear, still tried to fix the alarm and broken a lot worse. I have very optimistic mates.
   
I’ve never been an accident-prone person but the emotional and physical stress of selling my UK house has taken its toll. When I was hospitalised with high blood pressure before Christmas, I knew that this was the year things had to change, but I was wiped out packing everything up, selling or chucking stuff; even the incredibly kind friends who helped me nearly had breakdowns dealing with it. 

It’s also actually harder than I thought it would be, not going to bed and waking every morning worrying about debt. Everything, if it’s with you long enough, becomes your friend, and every loss is still a bereavement, albeit one of minuscule importance compared to the very real and traumatic loss of losing a loved one. 

We cling to and come to trust the familiar, even though we know it is bad for us. As I sit alone, nursing my broken ribs, I realise I have not one friend close by in New York who could even go to get me a pint of milk. So I’ve spent a couple of days doing sums again and worrying about money. 

Debt was my best friend for too long and I’ve called on it again in my hour of need.
   
Talking of friendship, a very weird thing happened. Out of the blue, I got a very stroppy text message from someone I had regarded as a very close friend in LA. I had no idea what she was talking about and she was unprepared to talk about it. Upon pushing her, she said that I had ignored her message of Tuesday and now she was very hurt that I had ignored it.
   
I sent her a photo of her messages – and I have every one she has ever sent me. She accused me of deleting it. I genuinely don’t know how to delete and later went to the Apple community forum to find out how.
   
Not all messages get through, and when a phone is in Airplane mode, they often go astray. I have no reason to ignore this person, who is incredibly sweet and kind and I love her company, but I am not the sort of person to deliberately ignore any message or e-mail. And I would certainly not have had the inclination or energy to do so while dealing with Wheeliegate.
   
It’s made me realise how lonely life is, away from the people who know you well, understand you and know you are not a liar. 

Sometimes, people just don’t want the friendship anymore and maybe they have to find spurious loopholes to get them out of it (my friend of 10 years’ standing in Bath once did the same thing). I have no idea. 

But I wish with all my heart at the moment I was going to the UK, where I’d planned to see my friends of 30 years plus.
   
I’ll be thinking of you all this weekend and sending much love as I tuck into my home delivered food. 

I think I might devour ribs doused in Tabasco sauce. 

At the moment, it feels like a suitable punishment for the damned things.
  

   

Monday, June 6, 2016

Dirty Laundry

Scary. Very, very scary. 

That’s the only word that describes it. For the first time in 40 years, I have been in contact with the L word. I am now in bed, contemplating the experience and recovering from the stress. Where is Valium when you need it?
   
Launderette (and yes, I am sticking to the traditional spelling, so if you don’t like it, you can wash off): the establishment I frequented so much as a student in the late Seventies. That made me cry when I didn’t have enough 2p pieces for the dryer, because I had used them all up phoning home from the red telephone box at the end of the street; that lulled me into the false sense of belief that I would meet the love of my life while watching the turntable of my undies; that returned my few clothes to me, shredded like the grated cheese I could never afford in Marks and Spencer when I went in for my one small can of chicken in cream sauce (luxury).
   
So, I am in Paris and, as I am travelling for two weeks, have to find a way to wash my clothes halfway through my trip. Luckily, in the 6th arrondissement, the launderette is just two doors down from my favourite bar, Semilla, which makes life a lot easier, even though the wash and dry now costs me two glasses of wine at 6 euros apiece (can anyone tell me where the euro sign is on a US Mac?), in addition to the 4 euros for the wash and 2 euros for the double dry.
   
It’s very stressful. There are buttons to press, hash-tag symbols to follow, coins to enter; and then, returning 38 minutes after the 25 minutes the machine tells you it is going to take, seeing that there are another 18 minutes to go.
   
I am stressed because my Issey Miyake Pleats Please collection is in the wash. I don’t want somebody taking it out and putting it in a dryer because it will all be ruined. I once had a cleaner in Bath who, thinking she was doing me a favour, ironed £2000 worth of the Pleats collection. When I arrived home from London, she greeted me with the words: “Those clothes were very creased; I had such a problem with them.” My screams could be heard beyond Swindon.
   
In case you don’t know the Pleats collection, think of ironing an Aero bar: those bubbles are never going to come back.
   
So, I make it back after two glasses to rescue the Pleats and put my stuff into the dryer. Now, though, it’s the same button and hash-tag process all over again, but you can dry only for 10 minutes at a time.
   
Dear God. It’s never like this on EastEnders, where no one, despite earning a ton load of dosh, ever washes their clothes at home. Does anyone even own a washing machine? As far as I can make out, people go into the launderette, listen to Dot pontificating about life and Hey! Presto! Their washing is done (although I have yet to see anyone actually leave with any).
   
This is the first time I have been back in Europe after selling my house, and it feels very odd. Normally, I would have gone straight to Cardiff, thrown my stuff in the washing machine and disappeared to London, Paris or wherever to see friends and family, knowing that I had my secure base.
   
I do not regret for a nanosecond the decision I have made, but I have been very tearful at feeling so rootless. I’ll be fine once I get back to the US, where I love my life and have my things around me and am surrounded my so much love. I am in the UK, too, but there has been a severance that feels more palpable now that I don’t have the security of bricks and mortar around me.
   
I am living out of a suitcase and am desperately homesick – for the US. I miss my sunsets over the Hudson in New York; I want to spend time in my indulgence, my new apartment in Los Angeles. I want to sit at my desk and get down to real work again, after months (and, leading up to it, years) of stress, dissolving my UK existence; I want to start enjoying waking up every morning without having to do four hours of sums, wondering how I am going to make ends meet.
   
So, the dryer has three minutes to go now, and I am thinking about the nature of my old life: washed away, finally, and spinning to who knows where. 

I watch the final 35 second countdown to zero and take out my clothes. I fold them, press the creases as best I can, and return to my hotel to pack them, ready for the final stage of this trip. 

New laundry. New life.
  

   

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Ali - Greatest Man on the Box

Muhammad Ali was my childhood hero and one of the reasons behind my lifelong love of television. 

He was the first thing I remember seeing and thinking Wow! The confidence, the physicality, the verbal dexterity. Obviously, I didn’t express it in those terms as a kid, but the huge impact he made on me was the belief that yes, it’s ok to acknowledge when you have a talent – but you have to put in the groundwork to maintain it: only then can you be proud of your success.
   
The thrill of being allowed to watch an Ali fight lived with me from the first second I saw – and heard – him. My parents would put my brother Nigel and me to bed early and, if we agreed to sleep, they promised to wake us up and bring us downstairs in our pyjamas to watch the boxing (they did the same with the Miss World contest, which was also thrilling, but in a different way).
   
It instilled in me a love of the sport, and when I was 13, in secondary school, and Joe Frazier beat Ali in what has been called the “fight of the century”, I was devastated. It was a unanimous decision that handed Frazier the Heavyweight title, and I went to school with a heavy heart that grew heavier when I arrived to see classmate Cerys writing “Well done Frazier” on the blackboard.
   
A couple of years ago, she got in touch via social networking, and I reminded her of how she had hurt me on that famous day. Naturally, she thought I was nuts even for having remembered; but I knew we could never be real friends, even so many decades on.
   
In 2013, I went to see Shane Mosley fight Floyd Mayweather in the MGM in Las Vegas. It was the greatest sporting event I had ever attended – not because of the main attraction (which wasn’t great, despite the hype), but because Ali was there. I didn’t get to meet him, but the cheers with which his name was greeted when the announcer said it (they single out all famous attendees) was a very emotional moment. 

He truly was the greatest, and when I witnessed the appalling way the Mayweather camp treat everyone (the Mosley camp were adorable), I realized that while Mayweather might currently be the world’s greatest boxer, true superstardom is that extra something that he will never have.
   
I wasn’t a very political child, and I’m not a very political adult, but I recall it being a big deal when Ali changed his name from Cassius Clay. My parents were shocked, and I remember it was a big talking point. The sense that he had let people down was palpable; to me, it just seemed glamorous, and I loved him even more for his ability to change his identity.
   
He was not only the first modern athlete but the first TV star, and there has been no one since who made such an impression upon me in the medium that was to become my life. He was a self-publicist with a genius of a talent, unlike today’s reality stars whose only skill is taking their kit off in front of the cameras and behaving like slobs. 

He had a sublime gift that was truly beautiful to watch, and it was heartbreaking to see the 32 years of suffering as Parkinson’s ravaged his once beautiful body.
   
I don’t believe in an afterlife, Ali, but today I wish there was one, because there are oh, so many people there whose lights I’d like you to punch out.
  
Goodbye, my hero. 

You are one person I would love to have met. 

It may be the final bell, but your legend and humanity will live on for many rounds to come.
  
  

   

Friday, May 27, 2016

Non-Preparation for Landing

I’ve always been a leader, not a follower. 

That’s not because I believe I have any great leadership skills; I just don’t trust anyone else to take me to the right destination, either physically or metaphorically. It’s probably the reason I’ve never been married. If you can’t trust someone to walk you down the aisle, it doesn’t bode well for a future with what’s waiting at the altar.
   
People tend to follow me, though. Again, not because I possess any great skill, but because I carry my actions through with such conviction, everyone thinks I must be doing the right thing. That’s how 250 people, following me off a plane, landed up in a dead end in Malaga airport. Incredibly, upon reaching the dead end, they all followed me back the way we had come, as, despite my error, I marched forth once more with Alamo like conviction.
   
I was less lucky when landing at John F Kennedy airport this week, following a Virgin America internal flight from Los Angeles to New York. It’s my third least favourite airport in the world (after Charles de Gaulle and Miami) and I try to fly in and out of Newark, which is more accessible to where I live in New York. 

But JFK was unavoidable on this occasion, and so, being the first to leave the plane (as per usual), I marched off forcefully, my troops (as per usual, again) scurrying up the rear in the belief that I knew where I was going.
   
The last thing I remember before my hysteria was pressing a metal bar on a door and finding myself alone on the other side. My troops had deserted me. I went to carousel six, which is where the announcer had told us to go, but not only were there no people I recognised from my flight, there were no bags.
   
There were, however, lots of officials telling me I had to join a long queue, but then directing me to a tiny queue when I explained I had Global Entry (which enables you to cut all queuing at US airports – it’s a joy). Now the fun really began: I had a Domestic flight ticket but was, inexplicably, in the International Arrivals area, and so wasn’t allowed out. I wasn’t allowed anywhere, in fact. This was it. Groundhog Day: destined to roam the corridors of JFK for all eternity.
   
What’s a girl to do? Cry. That’s what. And I did. Sobbed. Blubbed. Uncontrollably. I stopped anyone wearing a uniform to try to explain my fate. One female in security was unsympathetic and all but had me deported on the spot. But then there were men. Lovely, lovely men, who were a great deal more understanding. I fell upon their mercy and sobbed some more. 

“My luggage, where’s my luggage?” I wailed, with the kind of escalating enthusiasm one would normally reserve for a lost child.
   
More hunky security and police gathered around, all incredibly solicitous and really, really kind. One had managed to obtain a film of what had happened and showed me. It transpired the fault had not been mine, but that of Virgin America, who, as the evidence clearly showed, had ushered us towards the wrong exit. 

“What I don’t understand,” said Man with Film, pointing to my figure storming purposefully through the door, “is what happened to all these other people behind you.” 

Me neither, mate. Me neither.
   
Now, they all got very excited. They said they would be fining Virgin America. I, too, was now very excited, and, out of gratitude, watched the movie for a third time. But now the concern was how my followers had vanished in the Narnia of JFK.
   
Still crying about my luggage, which, given my history, I was sure had been stolen, I was escorted back to Domestic Arrivals, where my red case stood outside the Virgin America office, a lone surviving soldier at the end of a long battle.
   
So, what have I learned from this?

1.     Stop being a control freak and follow someone who really does know what they are doing.
2.     Men will rescue you if you cry long and hard enough.
3.     Tears don’t work on women.
4.     JFK now beats Charles de Gaulle and Miami as the worst airport in the world.
5.     Doors at airports are closed for a reason.
6.     Virgin America’s trolley service is better than its geographical landing procedure.
7.     There is nothing quite so lonely as an empty carousel.
8.     When the going gets tough, everyone will desert you.
9.     You can always find more tears, when necessary.
10.  I love men. Did I mention that?

Tomorrow, I am flying Virgin Atlantic back to the UK. I’ll be second off the plane.
  
  

    

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Happiness Pause

I watched Brooklyn again last night. It was my favourite film of 2015, not least because I was facing the decision of totally embracing my new life or returning to the comfort of the familiar. 

Like Eilis in Ireland, I had a light-bulb moment in Wales of  “I’d forgotten”, when a small-minded individual made some comments that were a salient reminder of why I’d crossed the Atlantic in the first place.
   
I have a wonderful career in the UK, and fantastic friends and family; but I’ve always sought new experiences, cultures and people. I think it’s what every writer worth their salt does – Scott Fitzgerald, D H Lawrence, Ernest Hemingway. Okay, they ended up dying of alcoholism, TB and suicide, but you can’t have everything. Travel takes it out of you.
   
So, I’ve been four days in my new LA abode and tomorrow I fly back to New York. I’m looking forward to it: a screening on Tuesday with Welsh friends, a party to celebrate the June issue of W42ndSt (the Hell’s Kitchen magazine for which I write a monthly column), and a meet-up with an artist friend over from the UK on Thursday. Plus, I’ll see my beloved sunsets over the Hudson after nearly three weeks away.
   
I’ve been enjoying a break following the sale of my house in Cardiff, and while I won’t be rushing back to Salt Lake City in a hurry, it’s been a much needed relaxing time, laughing with mega clever, funny friends, and sleeping right through the night for the first time in years.
   
It’s been a time in which I’ve allowed myself to be happy. I use the word “allow” carefully, as the nature of happiness sometimes carries a lot of baggage: guilt, when one sees the extent of suffering in the world; trepidation, because all happiness is at some point countered by its ugly twin, sadness; and also darkness - fear for the future, that one may never re-experience the intensity of joy.
   
The writer and art critic Guillaume Apollinaire said: “Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” So that’s what I’ve been doing. Talking, looking at trees (the purple jacundas are at their most glorious in LA at the moment), walking and playing. 

Yes, playing. 

My friends Karl and Richard, who live in LA, treated me to a flight experience – in Karl’s living room. Insisting on strapping me in my seat, they lifted the sofa and shook it for turbulence; upon landing, I was detained by Customs and put in a cell . . . You had to be there, really.
   
It’s fun being a child again. Although I don’t have children (and absolutely no regrets there), I love them: their ability to live in the moment, even though at such an early age the fears that will be their future are present: two girls in New York, throwing their tiny hands to their mouths in horror when they saw a dead bird on the street; a boy in LA recoiling in disgust at some cigarette butts in a sand bin. But also, the abandonment that is the essence of a lack of expectation: a group in the late afternoon Californian sun, throwing a ball, their effortless laughter in a jacunda of calm.
   
I love laughter. Despite a difficult few years, I have never stopped laughing. I am blessed to have so many really funny friends, from all walks of life. To quote Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick: “I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing.”
   
No, none of us know what is coming; if we did, we’d probably jump off the nearest bridge to save ourselves the trouble of facing it. But we are resilient beings. We have words to help us make sense of life; we have empathy in our souls; and we have each other.
   
And so, moving on: thank you to everyone who has seen me through and given me such support in oh, so many ways. I might be hit by a bus this afternoon (I’ll try not to be), but at the moment I’m living for the laughter – the pause of happiness. 

Just don’t make me watch The Revenant again.  


  

Monday, May 16, 2016

Out of the Woods

I cannot think of a more lonely way to end one’s life than surrender to the sea. 

The news of writer Sally Brampton’s suicide last week is heartbreaking at so many levels, but those last steps are the most horrible even to contemplate.
   
My friend Angharad chose the same method: sitting on a rock on a freezing January night on Penarth seafront, waiting for the waves to swallow her. The image still haunts me.
   
I have suffered from depression, as many have, but at this point am in a very good place. It’s been an incredibly tough seven years financially (which I’ve written about), but still nothing that pushed me to the point of wanting to end it all; because if there is one thing that now frightens me more than life continuing, it’s the thought of it ending. It’s rushing by so quickly, I can’t bear the thought of all the things and people I will never get to see or meet. I suspect that’s how the myth of everlasting life came about.
   
I remember when my friend Jonathan committed suicide many years ago, I wept the most when I listened to Mozart’s Requiem shortly after. The knowledge that he would never again experience it filled me with sorrow; ever after, when I reached rock bottom, the grain of hope that was the absence of Mozart pulled me through.
   
Yes, I know it’s not that simple, and that depression is the Monster in the House (to use Blake Snyder’s film term) that is always lurking. But it’s why I try to store up the good in order to prepare me for the bad.
   
I am no longer a religious person, but I still love the teachings of Jesus – be good to one another, damnit! How hard can that be? I especially love the parables – apart from the one about the Rich Fool.
   
So, in summary: the rich fool’s idea is to store up as much grain as he can in his barn, and eat, drink and be merry for evermore. God’s having none of it. His reasoning is that the man may die tonight and everyone else will benefit from that which he was saving for himself (Tip of the day: Never turn to God on the subject of material possessions; he’s never going to approve of that new iPad).
   
There is, nevertheless, a nice metaphor in there on the subject of storing things up. Despite the Seven Year Bitch, as I call it, I didn’t die (always a bonus) and was still able to enjoy so much through friends and travel: the emotional grain you store up that will be the resource to get you through the next emotional famine.
   
My life changed completely three weeks ago when, after four years, my house in Cardiff finally sold. I won’t pretend that it wasn’t emotionally difficult, and many tears were shed. Was I doing the right thing? Why was I parting with the thing I had worked so hard to get? What’s life all about anyway?
   
But on Wednesday, I take the keys to my new Los Angeles apartment. I lived in the city for six years and, when I moved to New York two years ago, held on to the dream of being bi-coastal. New York is wonderful April to June, but a monster November to February; Los Angeles is great all year round, but there are only six months of the year that it is humanly possibly to listen to actors and directors pontificate about meetings and jobs they will never get.
  
I’ve lived in two places most of my adult life: London, Cardiff, Bath, Paris, Marbella – and, at one point, in four of them at the same time. I have no idea why. I suspect I have a very low boredom threshold that applies to people, as well as places: bring me an act, or you’re gone. It doesn’t have to be an all singing, all dancing act, but you have to bring something to the table: even silence (actually, especially silence, if I’m the act).
   
I’ve just enjoyed one of the best weeks of my life – debt free, great people, laughter so hearty the people at the next table thought I was having a stroke – and if it all went tomorrow, I’ve still had a better life than most people in the world. Most of the time, I don't know how anyone can bear not to be me. Now that's happiness.
   
The support from people, and especially those in social networking during these difficult times, has been phenomenal; I really would not have survived without it: family, friends, strangers. To quote Hebrews: my cup runneth over. Truly (some of it’s okay, this Bible lark).
   
While the phrase “You’re so lucky” has been bandied about (and I know it’s not in a malicious way), luck really has very little to do with it. The people who have seen me struggle for so long will know that my current existence has come at a price, both financial and emotional.
   
There will doubtless be new obstacles and pressures ahead but, as the genius Czech poet Rainer Maria Rilke said: 

“The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.”
   
Where there’s breath, there’s hope. 

And Mozart.